This past Tuesday was National Golf Day, making this a fitting week to bring you the story of PING and how policies in Washington, particularly the miscellaneous tariff bill, are impacting golf equipment manufacturers.
In 1959, Karsten Solheim, a Norwegian immigrant and engineer, designed and manufactured a putter in his garage to address his frustration with putting, dubbing the new putter the PING putter because of the unique sound made when it struck the ball. A local golf professional was so impressed by the accuracy of the putter that he suggested Karsten make his invention available to other golfers. Soon after, Karsten transformed the family garage into a miniature manufacturing and assembly facility.
By 1966, Karsten Manufacturing Corporation became his full time job. Karsten pioneered the idea of custom fitting each golfer for golf clubs with specifications to fit each golfer’s characteristics and swing. Now PING manufactures and delivers premium, custom fit golf clubs to its customers within 48 hours of receiving an order.
Karsten’s youngest son, John Solheim, assumed leadership of the company in 1995 and has overseen its growth while building on the foundation of innovation, quality and integrity established by his father over 50 years ago.
Karsten Manufacturing is the only major golf manufacturer that maintains its own foundry in the United States, Dolphin, Inc., which casts PING club heads from molten metals.
The Solheim family and PING remain patriotically committed to providing jobs here in the U.S. whenever possible while remaining globally competitive. Although foreign sources are required for some of its products’ components, PING still designs and assembles the vast majority of its products in Arizona. The Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) helps keep manufacturing jobs in the U.S. by lessening the tax on imports of necessary components otherwise unavailable in the U.S., which helps manufacturers in the U.S. compete on the global playing field.
According to PING’s Chairman and CEO, John Solheim, “PING truly appreciates the leadership shown by Congress in passing previous Miscellaneous Tariff Bills, which have helped us provide additional great jobs with full benefits for Arizonans. Congress’ prior elimination of import duties on golf bag flats in previous Miscellaneous Tariff Bills allowed PING to close our golf carry bag production in Mexico and bring many golf bag manufacturing jobs back to the United States while improving the competitiveness of our golf bag business.”
Interestingly, the duty reduction on golf bag flats was not sought by PING, but by a competitor. The MTB process used over the past decade ensured that duty reductions would fairly benefit all manufacturers, and would be non-controversial and bipartisan. Thus, the passage of the duty reduction advocated by manufacturers in the golf bag industry benefited all golf carry bag manufacturers and our whole American economy.
As of January 1, 2013, that duty reduction expired, and manufacturers like PING are left unable to obtain in the U.S. the necessary materials for constructing golf carry bags, and are being forced to pay large tariffs to import the components necessary for maintaining assembly jobs in the U.S. By allowing the MTB package passed in 2010 to expire, the Congress has just placed an additional tax burden on manufacturing companies in America, including PING, which are already saddled with higher taxes and more burdensome regulations than their global competitors.
The current tariffs on golf club components actually penalize manufacturers who provide assembly jobs in the U.S., by charging a higher tariff for importing a component part of a club than is charged for importing a completed club. This nonsensical inverted tariff needs to be corrected if the U.S. is going to keep manufacturing jobs in America and to help these companies better compete. The current MTB contains six golf club head bills that attempt to correct this inverted tariff problem for the whole golf club manufacturing industry.
John Solheim hopes Congress will avoid further delay in enacting the duty reductions contained in the MTB. “My desire is to build on my father’s dream of building a lasting family business based on innovative ideas, quality, honesty, hard work and love, and to keep that business here in the U.S. Over half of our employees have worked with us for more than ten years, and over a quarter of our workforce has worked with us for more than twenty years. I care for our team and sincerely hope Congress will do its part to make it easier for manufacturers to provide good jobs here and to remain competitive in a challenging global market.”
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